Consistent privacy protections benefit consumers

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By Karen Zacharia
Verizon chief privacy officer.

“At Verizon, we are encouraged that the FCC appears to have taken seriously the input provided by a wide range of stakeholders and seems to be moving towards an approach that provides for more consistent standards across the internet ecosystem. We care deeply about our customers’ privacy, and understand that we have much at risk if we lose their trust. A consistent approach to privacy that gives consumers the same information and choices about the use of their data, regardless of the type of company they interact with online, is essential. Maintaining a consistent set of standards also will foster the competition and innovation that consumers love about the internet.    

Of course, we’ll need to closely review the final rules and order once they are released. But from the blog and fact sheet released today, it appears that the Chairman has proposed to more closely align any new rules with the Federal Trade Commission’s privacy framework that long applied to our ISP business and that continues to apply to the rest of the internet ecosystem. Applying a consistent set of rules to all internet companies is also consistent with the 2012 Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights—the Administration’s blueprint for privacy. Most significantly, the framework for choice outlined by Chairman Wheeler in his blog appears to tie the type of choice ISPs should offer to customers (e.g., opt-out or opt in) to the sensitivity of the information; opt-in consent is required only for the use of sensitive information. Where the FCC draws the line between sensitive and non-sensitive data will be important, but in general we agree that a sensitivity-based approach is more closely aligned with the Federal Trade Commissions’ choice framework and better for consumers. We think that this approach better reflects our customers’ expectations. In fact, at Verizon, we have long tailored choices for our customers based on data sensitivity.  

Verizon is much more than an ISP. For a company like Verizon, which offers a diverse set of products and services across the internet ecosystem, this movement towards a harmonized approach is particularly important. As I noted earlier, we will need to see exactly how the final rules and order turn out. We’re hopeful that the final rules will enable consumers to continue to fully realize all the benefits from the dynamic internet marketplace.”

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